My 26th birthday is right around the corner, which means I’m not going to be able to mooch off of my parent’s health insurance anymore. The relationship between millennials and their healthcare is an evolving one that stems from a re-definition of what it means to be healthy. Medical Marketing & Media’s White Paper entitled, “Communicating with Millennials: Understanding Their Approach to Health,” examines the disconnect millennials experience when attempting to understand a healthcare industry developed and shaped by previous generations. The findings state, “For millennials, health is no longer just ‘the absence of illness’—it is a proactive pursuit for wellness that encompasses mental health, nutrition, sleeping habits, and exercise.”
Part of this millennial healthcare trend can be attributed to readily-available information via the internet and the expansion of subject matter seen in mandatory high school and college health courses. Another side effect of the internet is how quickly communities can form through social media and the sharing of personal health stories. This has had an impact on reducing the stigma of mental health disorders and other health-related issues that did not previously have such an easily accessible forum.
Millennials Feel More Knowledgeable Than Ever About Their Health
This increase in healthcare knowledge by millennials has led to another, more alarming trend among this generation: self-diagnosis. Only 41% of millennials feel that doctors are their best source of information. Not surprisingly, almost 30% of millennials do not have a primary physician. Instead, they’re turning to Dr. Google.
In fact, 39% of millennials—almost as many as those who say they trust doctors for their health information—say they are satisfied with advice received from online resources such as WebMD and Mayo Clinic. (Pro Tip: If you’re ever feeling a little under the weather, don’t type your symptoms into Google. You’ll only find out you’re dying of yellow fever and mad cow disease.)
The end result is that millennials, when we do go to a doctor, are going for affirmation and prescriptions. Several doctors interviewed for Medical Marketing & Media’s white paper noted that millennial patients are coming into the doctor’s office having already done their research and knowing their options.
Reaching Your Audience with Millennial Healthcare Marketing
What does all this mean for healthcare marketers trying to reach millennials? It means the focus has to shift from being a health authority to being a health partner. Here are three ways to craft your healthcare marketing efforts with millennials in mind:
1. Approach healthcare for millennials holistically
Feature benefits such as coverage for alternative medicines and treatments (think acupuncture, homeopathy, and massage), as well as benefits that go beyond being well and go toward being healthy, like fitness center discounts.
2. Create relevant content marketing
Millennials are going to sources besides their doctors to get their health information. You can stay relevant by becoming a trusted health partner. Providing simple, helpful health information (like how to stay healthy during flu season or a how-to on morning stretches) can put your expertise in front of the millennials you’re targeting. Another great way to prove yourself as a partner is to feature other avenues of health information. Your millennial base will appreciate the concern for their wellness and the opportunity to be more proactive in their own health.
3. Meet millennials where we are
My dentist sends me a postcard, calls my house, sends me an email, and shoots me a text until I schedule an appointment. They are on top of my dental health, and they make sure I am, too. As a result, my teeth are immaculate. Setting up your marketing programs to be proactive on behalf of your members and responsive to their needs across a variety of channels ensures that millennials are receiving your messaging and utilizing your tools.
With so many ways to get information and monitor their own health, millennials feel more knowledgeable than ever about their healthcare needs. Marketing professional healthcare services requires an understanding of the unique dynamic that exists among millennials, healthcare providers, and other information sources. For more information on how millennials view healthcare, or for more marketing to millennials tips, contact me today.